Tips For Constructing a Mold-Free Building

Even with today's construction techniques, most buildings undergo natural wear and eventually need renovation. However, another hazard exists that can cause a building to lose value even before construction is complete. Dubbed "the new asbestos" by many, mold is an increasing problem in many new construction buildings, ruining the indoor air quality and costing thousands of dollars to remediate, according to GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI --

GEI, a non-profit organization that establishes indoor air standards for indoor products, environments and buildings, advises builders and contractors to take 10 precautions to avoid mold contamination of their properties.

"All it takes is a little rain and mold can grow all over an exposed structure," said Carl Smith, CEO/executive director of GEI. "Safer building may cost a little more time and money in the short term, but can save many more headaches in the future."

These precautions include:

  1. Site Assessment: The site must undergo both a soil/hydrology review and assessment and a landscape architecture review and assessment. You should hire a registered civil engineer for the first job and a registered landscape architect for the second. One must particularly make sure water does not settle near the building's proposed foundation.
  2. Building Envelope Review: An independent third party should assess the strength of the building's roof, wall assembly and foundation.
  3. HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning): A load analysis, equipment selection review, control systems check, layout and materials section review are all necessary.
  4. Plumbing: Moisture and condensation must be managed and taken into account in conjunction with any design issues. The size, design and use of the building must be matched appropriately to its plumbing system. A qualified third party should review these specifications.
  5. Materials: Any potentially moisture-sensitive materials should be identified during the initial design and then shipped, packaged, stored and installed appropriately so as to shield them from elements.
  6. Final Design/Construction Documents Approval: The final design, which includes moisture and mold prevention measures, must be approved by the building owner/developer's representative.
  7. Construction Verification: The construction site and ongoing building must be inspected by a qualified third party at least once every three months. These inspections include all materials deemed moisture sensitive -- ensuring they are not installed prior to the building being sealed or, at least, temporarily covered.
  8. Operations and Maintenance Training Plans: Building and maintenance personnel should be trained in preventing, spotting and reporting moisture incidents.
  9. Acceptance: An authorized third party should formally inspect the property to ensure it meets overall requirements. This onsite inspection includes all appliances, pipes, drains and other areas where condensation occurs.
  10. Ongoing Inspections: The property should be inspected at least four times during the first year of occupancy and on an ongoing basis in the following years.

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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